After the controversial events of Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals, everyone is waiting to see how the Miami Heat’s LeBron James will respond. Most assume he will return aggressive as ever, but the San Antonio Spurs should actually challenge him to come out guns a blazing.
In Game 1, the Spurs unexpectedly took a different approach to guarding James by actually “guarding” him. The end result was 25 points in 33 minutes by James, before the infamous “cramps” sidelined him for the game. The defensive strategy caused the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard to pick up two quick fouls in the first half, thus causing him to play only 23 minutes total.
San Antonio should resort back to sagging in the lane and daring James to shoot the rock. Out of his impressive offensive repertoire, shooting isn’t first on the list of ways he’d rather score. When the Spurs made James a jump shooter in last year’s NBA Finals, he didn’t produce more than 18 points for the first three games.
If the Spurs can force James to shoot, the rhythm of the Heat’s offense will become distorted and lackadaisical. Instead of ball movement, which results in open driving lanes for players like Dwayne Wade or open shots for Ray Allen, the offensive will just be everyone watching James hold the ball.
Even though the Heat haven’t alluded to the lack of air conditioning in the AT&T Center as the reason they lost, they can’t be happy about the overall result of Game 1. Since Jan. 10, the “Heatles” have a record of 12-0 after a loss. If the Spurs want to add a digit to that loss column, they will need use James’ aggression against him.